Conference on disAbility Focuses on Traumatic Brain Injuries

At the opening of the 11th Annual Northeastern U.S. Conference on disAbility, from left: Ralph Pacinelli, retired U.S. Dept of Education, Rehabilitation Administration Services Regional Commissioner; Lori Bruch, Ed.D, conference co-chair; Debra Pellegrino, Ed.D., dean of the Panuska College of Professional Studies; Kevin P. Quinn, S.J., president of The University of Scranton; Edward and Patricia Leahy, honorary co-chairs of the conference; Sandra Lamanna, conference co-chair; and Rebecca Spirito-Dalgin, Ph.D., conference co-chair.

“Traumatic Brain Injury: A meeting of the minds” was the theme of the 11th annual Northeastern U.S. Conference on disAbility, held Sept. 27 in the Patrick and Margaret DeNaples Center. The conference is hosted by the University’s Panuska College of Professional Studies (PCPS) with the support of the Edward R. Leahy, Jr. Endowment.

The conference featured an opening keynote by Susan H. Connors, president and CEO of the Brain Injury Association of America, and presentations by state and nationally recognized leaders in the TBI field.

The Annual Edward R. Leahy, Jr., Awards were presented to Regina Bennett, assistant dean, emerita, online and off-campus programs at The University of Scranton, and Attorney Gerald Savitsky, Harvard Law School Alumni Center and PCPS Board of Visitor. The luncheon program also included a live videoconference with the Honorable Robert P. Casey, United States Senator for Pennsylvania; the videoconference was moderated by J. Joseph Grady, Esq. ’81.

The evening keynote was delivered by Anthony Aquan-Assee, who acquired a traumatic brain injury in a motorcycle accident and recovered function against the odds to become a teacher, author and motivational speaker.

Emily Lang '15, a student in the Counseling and Human Services program at the University, was among a group of students who attended the conference. She offered the following reflection:

“This conference helped to reinforce in me my hopes and dreams of potentially becoming a rehabilitation counselor one day and instilled an even greater respect and admiration for those who withstand these TBI’s as well as any other disability-causing injury. I feel that the first-hand account I gained through hearing Anthony’s story as well as what I learned about the physiology of TBI’s and the work being done in our school systems here in Pa to benefit those with disabilities, will surely serve me well in the future, whatever population I choose to work for. “

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